It’s been a long day at school and an even longer afternoon filled with ballet classes and rehearsals. I’m tired, hungry, and weighed down from the exhaustion of the day, but as I weave down the curvy road and pull into my driveway, I am filled with a sense of relief and comfort. Finally, I am home.

In our home, I can shed the layers that protect me out in the world. No pressure to polish and primp to perfection, no expectations, and no one to impress. I wash off the day and let my insecurities fade. A home houses those who truly see each other… the raw, unpolished version.

I walk into the house, adorned with several heavy bags that represent my hectic day. Dropping them in the entryway, I feel the burdens of the day lifted and follow the smell of my mom’s homemade soup into the kitchen, the central heartbeat of our home where my family congregates after the day’s end. I devour a satisfying dinner at our oak counter that overlooks the activity of the house. My brother is kicking a soccer ball against the wall as my sister plays a breezy tune that tinkles from the piano. Already, I feel nurtured from this place that brings me so much comfort.

Home is our safe place to share with those we love most, a place to play Lizzo at full volume and dance like maniacs, a place to cry uncontrollably and talk through the struggles we are facing, a place to heal and grow, and a place to emerge and flourish into the person we are at the core of our soul. With the expectations of the world stripped away, I am only left with my true identity and the people I share it with.

Trudging upstairs, I shuffle past a few books and piles of legos scattered around the floor from my brother’s unfinished projects. Home is messy. Others would say it needs to be cleaned up, but your own home accepts the messiness of life and offers room to explore your creative side with no one to judge.

As the sky dims from blue to black, my head finally hits the pillow to recharge for another day. In this sanctuary of my deepest, most vulnerable thoughts, I feel the love that exudes from this house and those who live in it. It was built from the ground up, every detail handcrafted with intention by my parents. My room is embellished with Parisian photographs and maps of the world which represent my love for travel and fashion. In so many ways, home embodies who we are and what we love. However, what truly makes a home isn’t the comfy couch or heirloom plates, it is the love living inside that allows those who reside in it a place to confidently rest in their true identity, not influenced by the world outside. A home is a shelter where I can be my true self.